University of Texas alumna Shelbi Cardwell currently serves as the Chief Legal Officer for Black Flag Transport, a cannabis distributor based in Los Angeles County, California. Licensed to practice in multiple states, Cardwell has used her diverse legal background, along with her MBA, to develop Black Flag from a mere business plan to a fully-operational machine. Cardwell knows firsthand the challenges that come with working in the cannabis industry, especially in a controlling and evolving regulatory environment that is increasingly competing with the illicit market. She is intimately familiar with the tedious and expensive licensing process that presents countless obstacles to all business owners, regardless of their role in the supply chain. Although compliance matters are not always the most glamorous aspect of the industry, Cardwell believes all business owners — whether they are cultivators or extractors or retailers — should be well versed in the rules that could quickly put an end to their legal operations. As a distributor, Black Flag provides secure transport and logistics for cannabis products and cash, using state-of-the-art, climate-controlled armored vehicles and armed drivers to move millions of dollars’ worth of cannabis across the state of California. As such, Cardwell regularly treads through legal issues concerning complex statutory compliance, banking restrictions, workers’ compensation insurance, state concealed weapons rules, and basic vendor contracts. While she is hoping Black Flag and other cannabis firms will one day be able to sell and transport their products intrastate, Cardwell believes the US government has some major hurdles to clear before that becomes possible and profitable, including decriminalization and lifting banking restrictions.
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